For the last year I’ve been working my way through The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. It has been amazing to me how relevant many of the lessons have been to modern life. Today’s lesson seemed particularly good to me, so I thought I would share it.
“It is when times are good that you should gird yourself for tougher times ahead.” Seneca, Moral Letters 18.5-6
We live amid incredible luxuries. Even simple things like clean running water, electricity, and the abundance of the grocery store are things that we should be thankful for. When you add in cars and having all of the answers in the world at our fingertips though the internet and virtually instant global communication, we are living in a world that was barely imaginable a century ago.
These wonders are easy to begin to rely on however. They can creep into your head and make you feel all panicky when you think of their involuntary absence.
The best way to avoid this is to remind yourself that you don’t really need them. As Seneca suggested, periodically deprive yourself on purpose. Walk to the store. Go camping somewhere without any plugins. Somewhere that you have to filter your own water. Plant a garden and grow your own food. Go hunting. Provide for yourself. Take a cold shower. Turn off the air conditioner when it’s ridiculously hot. Turn the heat down when its cold. Go hard in a sparring match with someone who is better than you. Take a beating. Do all of this on purpose, when you don’t have to.
Willfully subjecting yourself to things you fear conditions you against them. You will be able to better bear their pain when you no longer have a choice in the matter. It give you power over them.
Have you applied something similar in your life? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for new challenges 🙂